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More Time Needed on Overseas Swaps, Democratic Lawmakers Say

June 27 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. regulators will inject risk into the derivatives market if they don’t take more time to coordinate Dodd-Frank Act rules with their overseas counterparts, said Democrats in the Senate and House.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, facing a July 12 deadline to determine the overseas reach of its rules, should take additional time to coordinate oversight with other regulators, six senators said in a letter yesterday to Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. A similar letter dated today from 35 House lawmakers went to the heads of the CFTC and Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Creating an overly complicated compliance system for market participants will result in conflicting, duplicative or inconsistent rules that could foster new and unforeseen risks and lead to international regulatory arbitrage,” the senators said. “More time is needed for domestic harmonization and sequencing with regulations that occur abroad.”

The Senate letter was signed by Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Tom Carper of Delaware, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Charles Schumer of New York. The 35 lawmakers signing the House version included John Larson and Jim Himes of Connecticut, and Steve Israel of New York.

Steve Adamske, the CFTC spokesman, and Suzanne Elio, Treasury Department spokeswoman, both declined to comment. John Nester, an SEC spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

$633 Trillion Market

The guidance would govern the reach of rules affecting Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Plc and other banks, hedge funds and companies in the $633 trillion global swaps market.

The international reach of the CFTC swap trading requirements has been one of the most controversial elements of the agency’s Dodd-Frank Act rules, prompting opposition from financial companies including Goldman Sachs and Barclays.

Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Carl Levin of Michigan, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Dianne Feinstein of California in May urged the CFTC to strengthen the reach of its rules.

“If anything, the CFTC should be going further,” Warren said in a telephone interview today. “If the last piece is a loophole that lets any company operate through guaranteed affiliates using a post office box in some foreign jurisdiction then it undercuts everything we’ve done.”

‘Means Delay’

CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler said June 25 that his agency should push through its cross-border derivatives guidance by July 12 and opposed a proposal from a fellow Democrat on the commission, Mark Wetjen, for “interim final guidance” that could be amended based on industry and public feedback.

“It means delay, and I think we’ve had a year to do this,” Gensler told reporters after testifying before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in Washington. “The American public should hold us to task if we can’t get this done by July 12. They should say, ‘Why does it take so long and are we doing too much to accommodate Wall Street?’”

Jill E. Sommers, a Republican CFTC commissioner, released a statement yesterday defending Wetjen’s position and criticizing Gensler’s contention that efforts to delay rules are meant to undermine Dodd-Frank, the regulatory overhaul enacted in response to the 2008 credit crisis.

Not ‘Reasonable’

“No one has ever accused Gary Gensler of being reasonable,” Sommers said in her statement. “I may not totally agree with it, but Commissioner Wetjen has put a reasonable proposal on the table that would achieve multiple goals. He understands the importance of working in good faith with other global regulators.”

The House Democrats said that a failure to harmonize rules “will have substantial negative effects on our domestic businesses operating abroad” and on the integrity of the financial system.

“The unilateral application of our rules to other countries that are presently working on complementary regulatory regimes will result in a flight of swaps activity away from U.S. banks overseas and further away from our oversight,” according to their letter.

To contact the reporters on this story: Silla Brush in Washington at sbrush@bloomberg.net; Cheyenne Hopkins in Washington at chopkins19@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at mreynolds34@bloomberg.net

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